Invaders From Mars (1953)

Invaders From Mars (1953) is an independently made child point-of-view flying saucer fantasy science fiction alien peril SuperCinecolor, occupying a near maverick status in the mid twentieth century annals of US science fiction cinema.

Directed by super-Scot, or at leaset second generation American Scot William Cameron Menzies and starring Jimmy Hunt, Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, Morris Ankrum, Leif Erickson, and Hillary Brooke, it was produced by Edward L. Alperson Jr. and released by 20th Century-Fox in terrifying color, not just SuperCinecolor. For more on that Cinecolor effect, go here to Wikipedia.

The film follows David MacLean, a young boy who witnesses a flying saucer behind his home one night. When his father investigates, he returns a changed man. Very much the lousy husband of the 1950s farm noir and a huge domestic tyrant bashing his child about in far too harsh a manner, please be warned.

Suburban smiles in Invaders From Mars (1953)

Soon David's mother, his neighbors, and others begin to act in the same way. David's panicked story is heard by Dr. Pat Blake, who takes him to astronomer Dr. Stuart Kelston. David soon convinces Kelston, who comes to believe that this is an invading force of some sort from Mars. What sort exactly is not clear, but is something of a sand sucking area behind the house and over director Cameron Menzies' fantasy gnoll of a set.

Invaders from Mars (1953) recounts its story from the point of view of an older child in an adult world heading into crisis. It was developed from a scenario by Richard Blake and based on a story treatment by John Tucker Battle, who was inspired by a dream recounted to him by his wife.

The film very much feels like a film recounted by somebody else's wife, it has that kind of vibe to it, an odd circumstantial and repeating nagging dream, except for maybe the wife in question is in the military, because there are hours of footage of tanks being mobilised in this film. Please be warned that this is no joke, and is military mobilisation montage at its best, and longest.

The film was rushed into production to be released before George Pal's War of the Worlds (also released in 1953), becoming the first feature film to show aliens and their spacecraft in color. Was it worth the rush you will be able to say after seeing both films, both it should be added, quite different films.

Invaders From Mars (1953) and the ever-present fear of Communist infiltration, or at least, let's put it like this and say that against this backdrop, science fiction films emerged as a powerful medium to explore societal anxieties and reflect the collective psyche. 

Hillary Brooke in Invaders From Mars (1953)

More earnest than outré there are strange scenes however in this gold mine of a film, and the fantastical faerieland-like sound stage reconstruction of one single tre-gnolled aspect which is used again and again has a charm far exceeding the queasy sensations you can experience watching it change.

The lengthy scenes of military preparation are like a film in themselves, and send something even more simplistic than even the CIA could have dreamed of, so it turns out in fact that this director does just like to enjoy the mis en scene of tank, much as any tank and movie tank enthusiast might, one whose just a tank lover I would surmise.

To balance the tank and tank talk and tank action there is delightful and nice and what you might like to call excellent and pretty music in Invaders From Mars (1953)

Invaders From Mars (1953)
is not however a film noir, and nor does it relate to noir, which might not seem that much of a deal, but most saucer and alien science fiction from the era and most especially the period of the mid to late 1950s, most of that science fiction and saucer cinema does relate to noir even in passing.

One such film, this one, that is not noir but plain alien fantasy, Invaders From Mars, directed by William Cameron Menzies, encapsulated the prevailing paranoia and tapped into the nation's deepest fears. Invaders From Mars follows the story of young David MacLean, played by Jimmy Hunt, who witnesses a UFO landing near his home. The aliens, resembling grotesque green creatures with bulbous heads, begin to take control of the townspeople, including David's parents. 

As David tries to unravel the mystery, he discovers that the aliens are implanting mind-controlling devices at the base of their victims' necks. The film's eerie atmosphere, coupled with its claustrophobic set design, creates an unsettling experience for the audience.

Regarding this setting, there is a kind of magical ambience to it, because it is so false, and yet so well made, with its different lighting and seasonal effect options. To see a character walk into this set, along the winding path that curls through the trees and over a small knoll that leas in most cases to instant death or disappearance, this is to see a character walk a magical and theatrical transition.

The dangers are at home. Parental abuser narrative in Invaders From Mars (1953)

One of the great rise of -'the-kid-solved-it' 1950s movie dramas in Invaders From Mars (1953)

Alien parenting in Invaders From Mars (1953)

The film's release in 1953 coincided with the height of the Red Scare period, either way. There, you remember, Senator Joseph McCarthy's relentless pursuit of alleged Communists had permeated American society, leading to widespread suspicion and fear. The hunt for "subversives" extended to Hollywood, where the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) investigated filmmakers, actors, and writers.

The fear of Communist infiltration was palpable, and the public was primed for narratives that reinforced these anxieties. Invaders From Mars cleverly masked its commentary on the Red Scare by projecting it onto an extra-terrestrial threat. The film's portrayal of alien infiltration mirrored the fear of Communist spies infiltrating American institutions. 

The aliens' ability to control human minds through implanted devices mirrors the fear of ideological brainwashing. Just as the Communists were accused of indoctrinating susceptible individuals, the film suggests that anyone could become an unwitting pawn in an insidious plot. 

The film subverts trust in authority figures. David's parents, the local police, and even the schoolteacher fall under alien influence. This echoes the suspicion that even those in powerful positions could secretly harbor Communist sympathies. 

David's isolation—his inability to convince others of the alien threat—reflects the sense of isolation felt by those accused of being Communists. The fear of betrayal and the breakdown of community bonds were prevalent themes. 

Invaders From Mars perhaps does and perhaps does not transform the Red Scare into an actual alien invasion. The invaders' underground lair becomes a metaphor for Communist cells operating within American society. 

Girls are from . . . Mars! Invaders From Mars (1953)

Invaders From Mars was not just another sci-fi B-movie; it was a reflection of its time. Its impact extended beyond the screen, influencing subsequent films and popular culture. The film's portrayal of paranoia laid the groundwork for later classics like*Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), which further explored the theme of infiltration and loss of individuality and in fact exploded the genre into being, ripping culture a new one as it were. 

Evil suburban parenting mythologised in Invaders From Mars (1953)

Suburban parents . . . men and women in black in Invaders From Mars (1953)

Embedded truthfully alongside the fanciful rocketry and green outfits kitted up to full Martian fig, is a narrative about children and suburbia, and it is dark and perverse. Otherwise why would the hero of the piece and the likely central character be parented by two abusers?

As in the other solid suburban sci fi of the day, these aliens in suburbia want you to do a bit more than tidy your room, and will settle for nothing less than your soul. It's something that film noir could not quite express, or quite so directly, by literally saying that suburban parents are not just not who they say they are, but are violent abusers, as a part of a system of violent abuse that the government may or may not be willing to save you from. Here, the government wants to save young Davy, the eyes and ears of Earth at this moment.

Yes both are a testament to the power of cinema to mirror societal fears. By wrapping its message in a sci-fi package, it both entertained and unsettled audiences, leaving them with a lingering question: Could the enemy be among us? As we revisit this classic, we recognize that beneath the Martian invasion lies a deeper exploration of human vulnerability and the fragility of trust in times of crisis.

The film Invaders From Mars is available for viewing on the Internet Archive:

Invaders From Mars (1953)

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Invaders from Mars (1953) – Review - Mana Pop.

30 Facts about the movie Invaders from Mars -

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